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The Future of Taste

Blog

Big Chefs on the Small Screen: How Food Television Lifted Chefs to Cult Status

Sarah Zorn

From an exceedingly young age, chefs and food folk were my rock stars and celebrity idols. In fact, if the Bubble Yum-colored pages of Tiger Beat and Teen Bop had catered to culinary crushes, I would have had torn-out pages of Jacques Pepin all over my walls, instead of impressively coifed and collared photos of Edward Furlong and Jonathan Taylor Thomas.

But after years of geeking out over the same dog-eared copies of Gourmet magazine (where my ultimate idol, Sara Moulton, worked for 25 years), and soothing, single camera PBS shows (remember Yan Can Cook)?! I was stunned to find chefs all of a sudden thrust into the global spotlight, with the advent of a certain game-changing Goliath called The Food Network.

At a steady and seemingly unstoppable pace, a rash of culinary-focused programming hit the airwaves in force, from Top Chef on Bravo to everything on the Cooking Channel, to CBS show The Chew (an all-food morning talk show? Who would have thunk it)? Factor in the ever-growing number of similarly obsessed websites, blogs, vlogs, books, magazines, festivals, podcasts and what have you, no wonder it’s become common place for chefs to stroll the red carpet, and enrollment in cooking schools has gone up tenfold!

That’s why I’m beyond excited to be able to examine the culinary celebrity phenomenon with chefs that have truly lived it, who’ll help explore how it started, why it’s persevered, and where the heck it’s going.

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Taste Talks Food & Drink returns to Brooklyn September 12-14, 2014. See the full schedule and buy tickets here.